Friday, 24 July 2009

Narrowness, Mourning and hope

We are deep in the ‘Three Weeks,’ the period which commemorates the destructions of the Temple and other Jewish national catastrophe (there is much to commemorate). The Rabbinic term is ben hamitzarim – between the narrow places. Meitzar being connected, of course to mitzrayim – Egypt.


And this is how our succour comes. Egypt was harsh, horrid, but led to redemption. It’s not an unredeemable suffering. Caught in a narrow places one doesn’t have a choice as to which way to turn, one simply has to move forward. The liturgy of the 9th Av can be read as one long dirge, bitter and sorrowful, but there is a beauty in the tunes and tremendous beauty in the kinnot – the poetry associated with this time, and tight structure. Kinnot are written to specific literary conventions, a sort of Hebrew equivalent of a sonnet, as all around there are disasters and calamity these kinnot hold the pain, give it a shape, a construction, a way to head forward through the narrow places.


Perhaps the most well known kinnah – Eli Zion – contains yet another prod to assist us forward out of our narrow spaces. ‘Wail O Zion and her cities, like a woman giving birth.’ That’s an extraordinary image. Of course childbirth is intensely painful, but it’s not an unredeemable pain. On the contrary it’s a pain which brings, following it, the promise of tremendous joy. It’s something I have written about in the recent Quest journal (copies still available from the Synagogue office), our ritual serves to hold us, lead us, at the pace we are able to travel, from darkness to light and from mourning to hope.


For those of us carrying sorrow at this of  year – and it should be all of us – my blessing is that the pain should be the pain of childbirth, as intense as it may be, so shall it be, that after it should bring joy, hope and celebration.


Our Synagogue commemoration of Tisha B’Av is this Wednesday evening at XX and Thursday morning at XX. All are welcome, as it says in the Talmud (Taanit 30b), ‘Those who mourn for Jerusalem and its destruction will merit rejoicing over Jerusalem rebuilt.’


Shabbat shalom



No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...